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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

24                     THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                CHA
Ismail was in many respects a bigger man than Sale but with vices where Said had only displayed weaknesses Said had been foolishly generous ;   Ismail  became  ; fraudulent   spendthrift.   Said   had   been   grossly self indulgent, especially in the pleasures of the table;,; Ismai was a sensuous, if more refined, jouisseur.    Sai'd had s childish conceit of himself;   Ismail was devoured witl unbounded megalomania.   Yet he had something too of Ms grandfather's finer ambitions, and also of his ruth-lessness.   It was he who gave Sir Samuel Baker full powers to extend his   authority as   Governor-General of the Sudan to the Equatorial provinces, and it was he who afterwards asked for Chinese Gordon, for whose curiously erratic and quixotic genius he had an almost superstitious admiration.   At the same time the horrible misgovernment, which neither Baker nor Gordon could do more than mitigate, left Ismail personally quite cold. He had a kindly as well as a cruel side to his nature, and would often go out of his way to relieve individual cases of distress that were brought to hisfnotice.    But he was utterly indifferent to the sufferings of his subjects in the aggregate, and where his own safety or Ms cupidity were involved, he would strike mercilessly at Ms closest friend.   I visited Egypt for the first time in the last years of his reign.   His one trusted Minister was then the Finance Minister, Ismail Sadik Mufettish,  reputed to be his foster-brother.   His influence with the Khedive was believed to be unbounded, and clients flocked every day to his ante-chambers in larger crowds than even to Abdeen Palace.   The state in which he lived vied with the Khedive's.   He had five or six palaces of Ms own in Cairo and immense estates all over the country.    One morning rumour had it that the famous Mufettish had suddenly disappeared,   Cairo shivered with excitement, though none dared to  express  either  horror  or relief, though relief predominated, as the hand 'of the Mufettish had been even heavier than that of the Khedive.   And on this occasion rumour was no lying jade.    In theament " to showWithin the first year of the Occupation